Healthy Mental Health:
Techniques and Tactics to Keep Your Mind Healthy
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The term “mental health” is one that is thrown around loosely with a broad meaning that can sometimes cause confusion. The term conjures up thoughts of psychologist’s offices, sofas and medication. But what is mental health….really?
Mental health is all aspects of the minds well-being and function, including optimal performance of mental processes, being able to create and nurture fulfilling relationships with others, and also adapting to change and being able to handle adversity in stride.
This is in stark contrast to mental illness,which is all mental disorders that disturb this pattern of health and create difficulties in the above descriptions.
Further, mental disorders and conditions are alterations in healthy thinking, mood, or behavior which lead to distress and impaired functioning.There can also be a combination of these, and they create an illness of the mind that can interfere with all aspects of daily life.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the definition of having a mental illness is:
“A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders), diagnosable currently or within the past year, and of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).”
It helps to think of mental health as a continuum, on one side you have healthy mental functioning in all aspects (see above), and at the other end is mental disorders and illnesses which create impaired functioning. Healthy Mental health can be quite fluid, and can change from day to day, depending on stress, relationships, physiological state, and even the weather…yes the weather!! To help you navigate through the process, The Family Guide to Mental Health Care is a comprehensive and easy to read gook to help with gaining a better understanding of all aspects of mental health.
Much like your physical health, your mind must be fit and healthy to achieve happiness and well-being in all aspects of life. It’s worthwhile to note that some anxiety, feelings of sadness, and down days are completely normal and do not mean you have a mental illness. These feelings are all a part of life. It’s when these feelings become extreme and last several days to months that they become an issue and warrant seeking professional help.
There are several ways we can naturally improve our mental health to feel more content, feel less anxious or less sad, and get rid of bad stress, but before we go into this, let’s first let’s dive into what encompasses healthy mental health, and break it down further.
Healthy Mental health includes:
Healthy and positive thoughts and feelings. This means your outlook on life is mostly positive from day to day, and you show resilience and resolve when any little problems pop up.
A healthy response mentally to stress and stressors. Stress is a part of life. No one can escape it. It’s how you deal with that stress that determines the outcome of your actions and ultimately your success in life. People who have healthy responses to stressors know they can overcome any obstacle and come out better for it.
Feelings of well-being. Well-being is quite subjective, but it can include feeling safe, loved, secure, and that the world is generally a good place.
Feelings of safety and security. Touched on above, safety and security is vitally important for our well-being, and things start to deteriorate quickly when we do not feel safe or secure.
Healthy thoughts and feelings towards other people and relationships. Like it or not, good relationships with people form a huge part of healthy mental health, self-esteem, and self-worth. Those with strong relationships are always rated as being happier and healthier than those who are alone. This is especially important as we age and become more isolated.
Stress and Anxiety: How They Affect our Mental Health
Stress and anxiety are two huge factors that can affect our mental health in many ways. If you are too stressed, say from a job, bad situation, isolation, or any other engagement, these can wreak havoc on your mood, sleep, sense of well-being, and even your physical health. Some stress is good, too much stress is bad. The same goes for anxiety. Being too anxious about something in the future means you are robbing yourself of the present moment, also affecting your well-being and your actually being able to enjoy life. They say it’s the little things in life, and that’s true, but you miss out on those things when you are anxious.
The good news is we can effectively control our mind, and with good nutrition, exercise, and supplementation, we can control our states and be happier and have a more positive outlook. Here are some things that can help:
Proper diet, sleep, and exercise. Proper diet ensures you are getting enough nutrients and calories to fuel your body. Sleeping well recharges your body and keeps hormones in balance. Exercise gets your heart pumping and endorphins going, and can also help you lose weight and build confidence. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Also avoid fast food, and try cooking your own meals (better yet, take a cooking class and be social!). Try to get in at least 20 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise (even walking can help!), and weight train for muscle and bone growth and retention when possible.
Positive thinking and self-talk, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Have you ever taken the time to talk to yourself, challenge your thoughts, and take control of them? You might want to. Controlling your inner thoughts and talking to yourself in a positive way can help build confidence and self-esteem, while working through problems. There are several good books on this subject like Positive Thinking by Brian Masters.
Fostering gratitude. We all have things to be thankful for. Thinking of these things can help us remember how good we have it, regardless of the situation. Think of all of the good people and things in your life, and it’s hard to feel stressed or anxious.
Getting “out of your head”. Getting out and doing something can take your mind off of your stressors and help you stop worrying. Staying busy occupies your mind and reduces the “chatty” brain. Do something social… or just go for a walk in nature.
Keeping a journal. Writing down your thoughts can help you work them out and figure out how you’re feeling at certain times. Try keeping a journal for 7 days, and reflect back on your thoughts and how you felt and why.
Meditation. Meditation helps you become more grounded, mindful, and peaceful. It can help you discover yourself and uncover issues that lead to anxiety and stress. There are plenty of meditation classes and courses you can take, and there are also plenty of resources online as well as music that can help you on your meditation journey.
Anti-anxiety and stress-relief essential oils, herbal remedies and supplements. There are some very good natural remedies that can help relieve stress and anxiety with little to no side effects. Some good ones to look into include :
You can find additional information on other anxiety busting herbs here on treatmentherbs.com.
Forging strong social relationships. Social relationships are of the utmost importance when it comes to mental health. Humans are social creatures, and isolation can lead to a host of mental health issues. Try joining different clubs, joining a gym, starting a sport, or taking a class. These are all great ways to meet people and create lasting relationships.
Healthy mental health is something we should all strive for, and that we can achieve with the right tools and direction. In reality there is nothing more important than your mental health, and we should all take all the steps we can towards improvement in this aspect!
Healthy mental health is a huge spectrum with many variables and should be developed on a daily basis. I hope you have found this article helpful, please subscribe, like, share, contact with comments. Thank you!
National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
Alternative Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. www.alternativementalhealth.com